In this article, Abi talks about getting a job in the tech-industry. Firstly looking at the history of the web and why copy-writing, copy-editing and content creation has become so pivotal, she then focuses on the most important skills you need as a writer to make you stand out from crowd. Take a look and discover what it takes...
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WEB, AND WHY NOW IS YOUR MOMENT
First of all, here's a summary of this chart.
In 1990, which is roughly when the web started with good old Tim Berners-Lee (I love it how the UK definitely feels ownership of the web). Before this happened, it was called Arpanet, which was an academic network. But the web as we really know it, started around 1990.
In 1995 it became commercially viable.At this time I was working for oil companies and it was exactly these types of big businesses and government bodies that began to become recognised and gain traction.
During 1995 to 2000 all these giants, including Google, Amazon and a whole host of others, were born. They were bubbling up in huge excitement until this bubble burst around the year 2000. And actually, I think the bursting of the bubble was a good thing, because all the large companies that were spending a whole lot of money on I don't know what, spawned some incredibly creative technologists and developers, who started becoming some good and very much needed competition. They didn't start with a lot of money, but they had good strong solutions, new programming languages, new offerings in security and new websites.
So between 2005 and 2010, things really took off. Everybody knew the web, everybody had a website and everybody was happy about buying things on it. Start-ups were beginning to crop up all over the place. Google was helping you to do better with SEO, in fact, Google had started becoming God. Everything was really going well.
Then we get to 2010 to 2015 and everything's been going so well that we're completely saturated. Everyone has nice looking websites... well almost everyone. But because Google said that it's all about bringing it back to the individual, SEO isn't working as well anymore.
Because there's so much out there, a nice designed website just doesn't cut it anymore. This is where user experience and content strategy comes into play.
Now companies can’t get ahead online without good user-centric content, as well as functionality and good design, which is where writers are so valuable and why I say that right now is your time.
Businesses are starting to understand that copy-writing, copy-editing and content generation aren't just things that they can cut out of the budget and forget about. They're things that are going to make me buy their product over so-and-so’s. It will to make me choose Apple over Microsoft or Netflix over Amazon Prime. It is not enough just to ‘look’ good anymore. You've got to include the right words and create the right environment for it to be a better experience than that of your competitors.
Even if a business can write great web copy, more often than not, it isn't sustainable - a website can no longer act like a brochure. Humans and search engines both want to digest quantities of relevant content to get to know you, trust you and give you their custom. And what you as writers can do, is to create content that is desirable. Desirability is what's going to make that business more profitable and require your skills more.
So, user experience design and content strategy are buzz words that you're going to start hearing a lot, but with good reason.
DESIGN-DRIVEN COMPANIES OUTPERFORM S&P BY 228% OVER TEN YEARS - THE ‘DMI DESIGN VALUE INDEX'
User experience design means that the customer is getting a user-centric brand experience. If you go to Disneyland, you'll see that their brand experience is spot on. Absolutely nothing in that place hasn't been done specifically to make you love Disneyland. From the music, to the smell of the pretzels, to the flowers in the iconic Mickey Mouse shape. Ok so it might be a bit much for some, but it works!
This is called a user experience design circle. It shows that in the beginning you had utility. This is when everything was very techy looking and, although it functioned, it wasn’t that easy to use. People did manage to figure it out though and, particularly if you were academic, you didn't really mind that much anyway.
Then the designers came along and talked about wanting to make it really visually appealing and usable. This was great, but then we still needed another layer on top of that because usable wasn't enough to set you apart. It needed to be desirable.
Desirable is something that as well as looking nice, needs to resonate with you. It should feel like something you want to be part of, or synonymous with. It's about everything working together and words are very much part of this.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CONTENT JOBS ONLINE
Everyone knows that a copywriter writes copy, and a wordsmith crafts and polishes to create that desire. The next person would be a constant strategist - the guardian of a company’s content and manager of content generators, providing and publishing across platforms or journalists who research and review, or tapping into a bloggers audience. Content marketing angles the content with a focus on bringing you back for a demo or trial of the product and a UX designer is gathering market research to create the correct content rich architecture.*
*Ok - I’m going to asterisk all this with a large ‘sort of’ clause, of course all job remits and job titles vary massively from place to place.
HOW DO YOU PROMOTE YOURSELF?
Like with every creative job, it is hard to build a portfolio and get out there. But through keeping up your own pet projects, it's a great way to show what you do.
WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A CANDIDATE
We all get approached by freelancers, some of whom might be great, but we don't need them at that particular moment. What I would be looking for, is somebody who is going to be able to solve my problems, keep in touch with interesting emails and offer an angle or package that I can see will help and fit in with my workflow or project that I might carry out in the future.
These are some auxiliary skills that are always useful when working in the tech industry.
NOW OVER TO YOU!
Who do you want to be when you grow up, what are some of your strengths, where can you see yourself? And how do people know that you write great content?
You just have to go for it! There aren't any quick wins - roll up your sleeves and get started. But…
Thanks for reading!
If you are interested in discussing a speaking opportunity please get in touch.